Principal's Note - Oct 30, 2022

By Margaret Barnes
Principal's Note
October 31, 2022

Good afternoon, Holmes Families!

After a tough day at Holmes on Friday, I decided to postpone our weekly newsletter for a couple of days.  After such a strong and smooth start to the school year in August and September, these last few weeks have been challenging with the uptick in student behaviors and peer conflict that we are seeing.  We were looking forward to having a fun Activity Day with students and an extended recess.  Students still had the opportunity to do choice activities in their 6th period classes, and we hope to have another opportunity to extended recess for them on another date.  

Here are some of my thoughts and next steps as we address what we are seeing:

  • Early Identification: One of the most important ways that we can prevent public physical and verbal altercations between students is by knowing about the conflicts between students early before they escalate.  Our counselors and administrators respond to tips from students, staff, and parents on a daily basis and spend quite a bit of time investigating and mediating between students.  One of the most frustrating things about Friday was that parents and students knew about the conflict between the students before the incident but did not notify school staff. 
  • Monitor Social Media: The tips that we often get from students and parents are from social media posts on a variety of platforms.  Please monitor your student's activity online, ask them about their interactions on different platforms, and let us know if you or your student see something concerning so that we can address it immediately.  I am so grateful for the anonymous tip that our Office of Safety and Security received about the threat to the school so that the Fairfax County Police Department could follow up quickly.  
  • Increase use of Restorative Practices: Our counselors and administrators are trained in restorative practices, which are practices that help to develop student's empathy for others as they reflect on the harm they have caused, impact they have had on others, and how to make things right.  We always recommend a Restorative Conference with a trained facilitator after students have engaged in a fight (in addition to disciplinary consequences), but it is a voluntary process that can only move forward with all parties involved agree.  I will be consulting with FCPS' Restorative Justice Practices Specialist this week to explore how we expand the use of these practices in more preventative, rather than just reactive, ways.  We talked about this some at our PTA meeting last week, and we will be considering ways that we can include our parent community in these parent conversations.
  • Seek out help: Having difficulty managing emotions and controlling impulses is typical of the middle schooler, but we have seen an increase in this since students have returned from virtual instruction.  If you are concerned about this with your student, please reach out to your student's counselor (contact information below) for resources.  
  • Honest conversations: Have open, honest conversations with your student about how they are feeling about what is happening in school, and please pass along any information that you feel is important for us to know.  Advise students not to accept any food or drink from others and to notify an adult as soon as they are aware of someone having or doing something unsafe and inappropriate.  (See this article about an incident that happened at Liberty MS just a few days ago.)  Being aware of what's out there and rehearsing how to respond is another way to support students through challenging situations. 
  • Reflect & Adjust: Part of what we will do over the next couple of weeks is reflect on our data and our routines and practices to determine where we need to make adjustments.  On Wednesday, our FCPS Chief Equity Officer, Nardos King (a former high school principal), will be coming to Holmes to consult with our administrative team about what she observes and how we can improve. 

Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming weeks about our continued work to help students manage their emotions and resolve conflicts peacefully.  Thank you all for all of your support, and please let me know your feedback as well. 

Fall Preview Concert was a success!

Kudos to our Music Department who held a wonderful fall preview concert this past Thursday for our first concert of the year!  We prioritize the Arts at Holmes and in the Annandale Pyramid.  It is always a pleasure having former Holmes students return to the concerts to support their younger siblings; they also act as an encouragement to students to stick with it as they move onto high school.  

Link to Cloud Recording of Holmes PTA Meeting on 10/26:

If you were not able to join us for the Holmes PTA meeting last Wednesday, please feel free to access the recording at the link below and use the passcode provided.

https://myfcpsk12.zoom.us/rec/share/LYOAMhpIcGJprJEyuWBavYVFJ0DXd7pHaHsxHfVBZYWKy4KdlG45zAWSJOmjnc8.w_e5M1Bn7ghLY4Wd

Passcode: [email protected]

Parent Coffee - 11/3, 9-10 AM in Person and Virtual

Topic: Adjusting to Middle School

Are you interested to learn how to support your child’s academic achievement and emotional wellbeing by connecting with the right staff for attendance, academic progress, grades, mental health, behavioral concerns, advanced academic program, etc.?

We invite you to join us in person with fresh coffee at Holmes to make connection with other parents and school staff. If you can’t make in person, please join us virtually.

Link to Zoom: https://myfcpsk12.zoom.us/j/94286299200 

Our Voices, Our Future - Strategic Plan Student Survey

FCPS is launching Our Voices, Our Future, an effort to build our strategic plan. This plan will serve as a roadmap to guide our school division for the next five years. We encourage you to be a part of this journey!

In the coming weeks, we will invite the FCPS community to engage in building our shared future. Our students will be the first to lend their voices to this process by participating in an optional online survey. With students at the very heart of our work, we believe they should have an opportunity to be heard and provide feedback on what they feel is important.  

The optional survey is designed to protect your child’s privacy and is anonymous. It will take about 10-15 minutes to complete. Responses to the student survey will be analyzed and included in data reports from the external consulting team FCPS is contracting with to support development of the new Strategic Plan. While the survey is voluntary, we would like all students in Grades 3 to 12 to take part in it. If you would like to review the survey or opt your child out of participating in it, please visit this webpageThe deadline to submit an opt-out form is October 28.

Feedback Welcome on Proposed Family Life Education Changes

The Fairfax County School Board is reviewing recommended changes to the Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum and invites public feedback as part of the review process. In May 2022, the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC) presented recommended curriculum changes, to go into effect for the 2023-24 school year. Those changes include adopting gender-combined instruction, and exploring instruction of gender identity, recommended media, and other instructional changes. 

The recommendations reflect leading education and child development research and expert advice. According to research cited in the recommendations, these changes will create a more inclusive learning environment, result in higher academic achievement for students, and improve school climate.

Public feedback will be shared with FLECAC and the School Board. FCPS staff and the School Board will consider all feedback but are unable to reply to individuals. 

Learn more about the recommended changes on our website. The public feedback form will be available on our website and will be open October 31 through December 1

Tutor.com through Schoology

Soon, in SOAR we will review with students how to access Tutor.com for help. So families are aware, with tutor.com students can get an expert help in a safe, secure virtual learning space—anytime, anywhere, on any device. Students access tutor.com through Schoology. Tutors can help with reading, math, and so much more! Students can connect by voice or text-chat and work together in an online classroom. For more information, visit our website. For information on opting out, click here.

Apply for admission at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology 

Middle school students who have an aptitude and passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) are encouraged to apply for admission to the Class of 2027 at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST). 

The application will be available on the TJHSST Admissions Office webpage starting October 24at 4 p.m. Applications must be started by 4 p.m. Wednesday, November 16, with a deadline to submit the application by Friday, November 18, at 4 p.m. Visit the TJHSST registration website for more information. 


Here are today's newsletter topics:

Holmes Updates

  • Student Services Information
  • 2022-23 Blue/White Schedule
  • 2022-23 Bell Schedule
  • After School Schedule Next Week
  • Holmes MS PTA
  • From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison
  • Testing Information & Quarter 2 Testing Windows
  • Important Upcoming Dates
  • How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

FCPS & Community Updates

  • Superintendent Community Conversation at Annandale HS - 11/29
  • Basic Java and Java Coding Workshops
  • Stay Connected with FCPS

Please feel free to reach out and let us know what questions you have.  Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sincerely,

Margaret Barnes

Proud Principal, Holmes MS

@email

#TeamHolmes


HOLMES UPDATES


Student Services Information

studentservicesinfo


2022-23 Blue/White Calendar

bluewhite


bell


From Mr. Kruk, our After School Specialist

2 New Activities coming to After-School!

  • Fashion Club and Lego League will debut during the upcoming 2nd quarter!
  • Both clubs will allow students to explore their creativity while collaborating with their peers to design and build amazing pieces of work.

 ASP Student of the Week – Sarah Blalock

  • Sarah was nominated as our Student of the Week because of the work in both Podcast club and Coding Beats Club.
  • Sarah has become an integral player in both clubs with her leadership, collaborative skills, and positive attitude.
  • Congrats Sarah!

 Voices of Now – Students and Voices of Now staff, completed the first of several workshop series this week.

Voices of Now

Anime Club – Students in Anime, had a great time learning how to create origami!

Anime Club

After School Schedule Next Week

Block 1Block 2

Students Leaving After-School before 4:45

    • Any student staying after school must be signed out of the main office by a parent or guardian if leaving prior to 4:45.
    • Walkers may sign themselves out any time after 3:30 when first block ends.

Questions/Concerns

Contact the After-School Specialist, Matt Kruk, @email


Holmes MS PTA

We invite EVERY family at Holmes to participate in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) because we can do more together! Advocate for your child, and for all the children at Holmes.  Connect with other parents, so that we can build a stronger community for ourselves and our children. This year, the Holmes PTA is planning on holding in-person meetings again, so you can meet face-to-face with other parents and with Ms. Barnes.  We're also planning restaurant nights, Bingo Nights, a Fun Run, Teacher Appreciation Week, and so much more!

  • Join the PTA on MemberHub between now and December 7th and get entered into a drawing for a gift certificate to Great American Restaurants!
  • Are you able to volunteer?  Submit this Google form
  • Want to order Spiritwear

From Ms. Oncho, Our Family Liaison

Parent Coffee - 11/3, 9-10 AM in Person and Virtual

Parent Coffee

Parent Coffee-Spanish

Parent Coffee_Amharic


Testing Information & Quarter 2 Testing Windows

State assessments measure the extent to which students have learned the content and skills reflected in state standards and may also be used to measure growth in learning state standards. The format and timing of state assessments vary by grade level and content area, as noted in the table below. These include:

  • Fall and winter Virginia Growth Assessments (VGA) standardized tests in reading and mathematics. More information is available on the VGA webpage (https://www.fcps.edu/node/43932);
  • Spring Standards of Learning (SOL) standardized tests in reading, mathematics, and science. More information is available on the SOL assessments webpage (https://www.fcps.edu/node/35021);
  • Ongoing local alternative assessments (LAAs) including performance-based assessments (PBAs) completed as part of classroom instruction in science, writing, and social studies; More information is available on the LAA and PBA webpage (https://www.fcps.edu/node/45043).

The Grade Level Tests webpage (https://www.fcps.edu/student-assessment/grade-level-tests) provides information by grade level about the general assessment schedule and reporting method for each required assessment type in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). School staff will contact you with the specific dates your student is scheduled to take the standardized VGA and SOL assessments. If you have questions about state assessments, contact your student’s teacher or Christopher Kamar, our test coordinator, at @email   

Qrt 2 Testing Window


Important Upcoming Dates

  • Monday, 10/31 - NO SCHOOL / Teacher Workday
  • Thursday, 11/3, 9 am - Parent Coffee (In-person and Virtual)
  • Monday, 11/8 - NO SCHOOL / Election Day
  • Friday, 11/11 - NO SCHOOL / School Planning Day & Veteran's Day
  • 11/23 - 11/25 - NO SCHOOL / Thanksgiving
  • 12/19/2022 - 1/2/2023 - NO  SCHOOL / Winter Break

How to Stay Connected to Holmes MS

Please stay in touch with us throughout the year by:


FCPS & Community Updates


Superintendent Community Conversation at Annandale HS - 11/29

Please join us for a Superintendent Community Conversation at Annadale HS on November 29th at 6:30-7:30 p.m. Learn more about Dr. Michelle Reid, FCPS superintendent, and help her get to know our school community. Language interpretation will be provided, as available, as well as child care and light refreshments. Please register to attend 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSesBN3kgLwPPiogeVQjiKKiiU4ya287vMQ_74_MsBeDW8c4MA/viewform


Basic Java and Advanced Java Coding Workshops

Fairfax High School students will be offering a virtual workshop to middle school students in Basic Java and Advanced Java coding. They are doing this as their fundraiser for buying supplies to build their Robot and pay competition fees.

Java Coding


Stay Connected with FCPS

Being connected to your school and division is important every year, and even more so now as we navigate our return to school. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for newsletters through News You Chose

Your school and FCPS have a variety of topics you can choose from, including:

  • School Newsletters- featuring everything you need to know about your child’s school
  • FCPS This Week- a weekly newsletter featuring news and happenings from across the division, published Wednesday mornings
  • School Board Meeting Update- a recap of important news coming out of school board meetings, published the Friday morning after the meeting
  • FCPS Employee News- weekly updates just for staff, published Tuesday mornings